Midwest soybeans are in demand around the world for meal and oil that provide nutrition for animals and people. On this Field Talk podcast, Linda Funk, Executive Director of the Soyfoods Council joins us to talk about the role of soy in human nutrition.


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Farm News

October 12, 2022
The U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments this week surrounding California's Proposition 12, which was passed by the state's voters in 2018. The measure dictates that pork sold in the state needs to come from pigs whose mothers were raised with at least 24 square feet of space, including the ability to lie down and turn around. It effectively outlaws the use of farrowing and gestation crates, which are widely used in the pork industry.

The National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) and the American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) sued saying the state measure unlawfully regulates how farmers in other states can raise animals. The groups argue Prop 12 is unconstitutional, imposes arbitrary standards, actually threatens animal welfare, will increase prices and disrupt supply chains while also threatening farmer's livelihoods. 

Following Tuesday's oral arguments, the NPPC issued this statement. 

“This is a historic day for American farmers. National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) and American Farm Bureau Federation presented oral arguments on NPPC v. Ross before the U.S. Supreme Court challenging the constitutionality of California Proposition 12. As we’ve contended since 2018, one state should not be able to regulate commerce in another state and set arbitrary standards that lack any scientific, technical, or agricultural basis. NPPC presented a strong case and is confident in its arguments presented to the Supreme Court Justices. We appreciate the support of the Biden Administration and look forward to the Court’s decision.”

AFBF Deputy General Counsel Travis Cushman says small farmers would not be able to comply with the California law. 

A decision by the Supreme Court isn't expected for at least a month and it may not come until the new year. 

The threat of a rail strike still looms as a possibility following the rejection of a proposed labor agreement was rejected by the third largest railroad union this week. The tentative agreement was rejected by the Brotherhood of Maintenance of Way Employee Division. The union reportedly agreed to hold off a potential strike until after Congress returns in mid-November. Twelve unions are voting on the deal, four have approved it. The remaining unions, including the two largest railroad labor unions are still voting on the deal with results not expected until November. 

Low water levels on the Mississippi River are causing shipping disruptions as barges get stuck in mud and sand. The U.S. Coast Guard has reported at least 8 barge groundings in the past week. Restrictions have already been put on barges, limiting the loads they can carry. The disruption is expected to cause headaches, delays and cost increases for moving grain down the river as well as moving products like fertilizer upriver. 
Hundreds of international buyers from over 50 countries and U.S. grain industry representatives are in Minneapolis this week for the U.S. Grains Council's Export Exchange will take place in Minneapolis next week. Customers who buy corn, dried distillers grains, sorghum, barley and ethanol will have the opportunity to meet with suppliers to build relationships and secure sales of U.S. commodities. Kandiyohi County farmer Chad Willis is past chair of the U.S. Grains Council. He says the Export Exchange happens every two years and is an important tool for connecting buyers and sellers. Listen

Dozens of trade teams will also spread across the country after the Export Exchange to get a first hand look at the nation's crops and how they're grown. 

Minnesota farmers are ripping through harvest at a rapid pace. The latest USDA crop report released Tuesday afternoon showed 63% of the state's soybeans were harvested, which is behind 2021, but well ahead of the five-year average of 47%. Corn harvest is estimated at 14% which is slightly behind the five-year average of 17%. USDA estimates 32% of the state's sugarbeets have been harvested. 

Minnesota's pork Industry, along with the National Pork Board, have been working on some sustainability goals and metrics. Minnesota Pork is now working with Sustainable Environmental Consultants to offer Minnesota pork producers the on-farm sustainability reports. Lauren Servick, director of marketing and public policy for Minnesota Pork says the on-farm sustainability reports take a snapshot of where farms are at with the practices they use and what kind of environmental impacts those practices have on things like soil erosion, carbon sequestration in the soils. Servick says the information remains private, but aggregate data will be gathered to demonstrate Minnesota's pork industry sustainability. Listen

Farmland values remain strong, although the prices have leveled off in recent months. Chuck Wingert with Hertz Farm Management in Mankato says values increased by 32.5% in 2021 and climbed another 6.5% in the first half of 2022. Concern over climbing input costs and higher interest rates have had an impact. Wingert says there's also been a few less buyers at the table for farmland. Listen

Tar spot is showing up in corn fields across the region, including in fields with no previous history of the disease. Tar spot can be identified by small, raised black and circular spots present on corn leaves. Darren Hefty with Hefty Seed says if certain areas of a field aren't yielding up to expectations, tar spot may be to blame. Checking those areas for the tar spot is advisable so other non-host crops can be planted there next year. Listen

Upcoming Events

Oct. 12-14           U.S. Grains Council Export Exchange, Minneapolis
Oct. 26-29          National FFA Convention, Indianapolis
Nov. 10                MN AgriGrowth Council 2022 Minnesota Ag & Food Summit, Minneapolis
Dec. 1                   GreenSeam Rural Forum, Mankato

Farm Fun Fact

With college football in full swing, there are at least 9 colleges and universities whose teams are nicknamed Aggies, in homage to their agricultural connections. Institutions include Texas A&M, Utah State, New Mexico State, University of California-Davis, Delaware Valley College, Oklahoma Panhandle State, North Carolina A&T, Cameron University and the Texas A&M-Galveston Sea Aggies.